Happy This Week!

Coming to school and having a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte and a card waiting for you from your dear friend because she knows you’ve been having a rough few weeks…

Coming to school and seeing this on your door from a former student…

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A new haircut for someone who is scared of change…

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A fun manicure…

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Students who bring you treats and cute pumpkins…and smiling every time you look at your post-it note to look up “your mom” jokes for your first period class because they are obsessed…

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Finding a bunch of great “your mom” jokes and making your class laugh…

Getting the “you rock” award at school this week…

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Getting a tuition reimbursement check for the full amount of your class…

Sweet texts from your husband saying your the best thing that’s ever happened to him…

Hearing “I love you, Mom”…

Advocating with my husband for Olivia and what she deserves…

Driving five boys and Olivia to soccer practice and listening to their conversations and spoiling them with pizza or Little Debbies…

Wine with my BFF…

Coffee with my Mom…

Making it to Friday when you weren’t sure if you would.

What made you happy this week?

Matthew is 9!

It was about a month ago…but my baby, my hilarious, kind and full of joy little man turned 9.

We couldn’t be more proud! We don’t know what we’d do without him.

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Beauty

I look at them…and I simply can’t believe how lucky I am to be their mother.

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Seeing Red

anger quote

I have discovered something about myself.

I’m angry. Very angry.

And I hold it all in and turn it on myself. I’m so mean to myself in my head it would probably make you cry.

It makes me cry.

And I think most of my self-hatred is due to all of this anger. I’m a kind, compassionate person who refuses to expel her anger on others…so where else could it go but inside?

But I’m trying to truly love myself and, therefore, I need to express my anger somehow.

I am so angry at Cri du Chat syndrome. Even though I love my daughter, and all that comes with being her mother, it doesn’t mean that I’m not angry about it. I try to be positive, and I’m really thankful for all of the wonderful things she’s brought to my life, but it doesn’t mean that I’m unaware or don’t feel all of the shitty parts also.

I’m angry because everything for Olivia is a struggle. It’s not fair. She has braces on her teeth, glasses for her eyes, scoliosis brace at night, still wears Pull-Ups, can’t communicate very well, can’t ride a bike, can’t hang out with friends, the list goes on and on and on and it’s so frustrating. It breaks my heart every single day.

She doesn’t have friends. She doesn’t seem to care but it makes me so sad and, frankly, angry too. She is amazing and sweet and hilarious and fun to hang out with. Why wouldn’t someone like that have friends? Because she’s “different” and that just sucks. I love hanging out with her, her brothers and family love hanging out with her, why doesn’t anyone else? Why does she eat lunch alone?

School for Olivia hasn’t been going very well. We are battling a bit. That makes me ridiculously angry. It’s unfair that someone as precious and vulnerable as Olivia has to endure anything but perfection while at school. I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel. And I’ve told you before, I’m ok with being that mom if I have to. But, damn, it’s exhausting. And frustrating. And heart wrenching. And makes me angry. Why does it have to be so hard?

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I’m angry because she’ll get her period soon and won’t understand why or how to handle it. I’m angry because I’ll have to handle it alone. I’m angry because I think I’ve had enough of that kind of bullshit to last a lifetime and I think I should get a pass on this one.

She won’t get married, won’t get her license, won’t go to college, won’t live on her own, won’t have children, won’t do so many things. It’s so unfair.

We have to take her wheelchair/stroller everywhere we go. Grocery shopping is getting to a be a real challenge now that she’s getting bigger. Everything is! There’s no quick stops to the drug store or the grocery store or the library. There’s no leaving her at home alone even though she’s almost 14.

And for me? I’m exhausted. All of the time. I constantly worry about her. Matt and I have to work so much harder at our marriage because of our stress thanks to her syndrome. Every day is hard. You’re never “off” when your child has special needs. Ever. And the thing that makes it even more difficult? It never ends. Sometimes when I hear people complain, I just want to scream. Maybe they’re complaining about potty training or not sleeping or not being able to go out to dinner and I just want to explode because it’s temporary for them. Eventually their child will use the potty. Eventually they will sleep. Eventually they will grow up and have a life of their own. But not Olivia. Our struggles are never ending. It’s not temporary. It’s forever.

And, yes, trust me, if you’re a regular reader you know that I love my life, I am positive, I always look for the silver lining. But, as stated numerous times in The Fault in Our Stars, pain demands to be felt. And the longer I hold it in, and pretend it’s not there, the worse off I am.

So I’m seeing red. Lots of it. I’m angry.

There. I said it.

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How Far She’s Come

It’s so easy to get lost in the downfalls of having a child with special needs. The potty training at 13, the stroller still needed, the $4000 to set up a special needs trust so she will be taken care of, the messes made, the frustrations. It’s so easy to wallow in those, to forget all of the good, to forget how far she’s come.

I pick her up from the sitter’s after school and she lights up to see me. She yells “Hi Mom!” and runs to the car. How many years did I beg and pray for her to say “mom”? How many hours did we spend working on walking and running?

She says she’s hungry and wants string cheese and crackers. She walks to the cupboard and chooses the crackers and tries to sneak Oreos. How many years did we fret that she may never be able to tell us what she wants? How many conversations did we have about her being able to just ask for simple things like crackers and cheese?

She’s frustrated by hormones or her brothers or lack of pajama time. She yells and voices her unhappiness. She has a stomachache or a sore throat and is able to tell us and ask for medicine. How many years did we worry that we’d never know she was in pain?

She treats her stuffed animals like best friends. She talks to them, she plays with them, she chooses one each night to sleep with. She loves hanging out with them, with me, with Daddy, with her brothers, with Grandma. We are her friends and she is perfectly content to just have us to play with. How many hours (even now) have I/do I spend worrying about her lack of friends? If it doesn’t seem to bother her, why does it bother me so much?

She gives us hugs, she tells us she loves us, she tells we’re beautiful and handsome and gentle and wonderful. How many years did we spend waiting for any words at all?

When I think I can’t possible do one more day, change one more pull-up, pick up one more mess, think one more depressing thought, I look at her and I remember. I remember all of the little things I hoped she would accomplish and think about just how very far she’s come.

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Happy This Week

Pumpkin everything! Pumpkin muffins! Pumpkin donuts! Pumpkin coffee!!!

We went to the apple orchard last weekend and had a blast. It was a gorgeous day, we found lots of delicious apples, ate yummy donuts and picked out pumpkins. I love our apple orchard tradition!

We took the kids to the park on Monday night. We took a walk with the dogs and then let the kids play at the playground. It was such a nice night and a great way to start our week.

I was able to have lunch with Olivia, Gabe and Matthew this week. That was a special treat!

I received a handwritten thank you from one of my student’s parents…in the mail! I’ve also received a few thank you emails. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. We should all reach out and say something nice more often, don’t you think?

I made a homemade apple pie for Matt this week because it’s his favorite…and I have a ton of apple to use! I’m constantly searching for the perfect apple pie recipe because Matt prefers…are you ready for this? Canned apple filling! EEEEEKKKK! That’s so not happening! So I finally found a recipe that was almost perfect…I just need to add a little more sugar next time to make it taste like the canned stuff. ;)

Even though I’m going to miss Matt, Matthew and Olivia this weekend, I’m excited to spend the whole weekend alone with Gabe at his soccer tournament!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

So…I’ve been feeling like I suck in most ways the last few weeks and not taking the time to write on this blog has definitely contributed to that feeling. I also haven’t read a blog in weeks which makes me bummed out. I’m trying…I’m really trying. Work and family life is just nuts right now…my house is a mess, we have thrown-together dinners on the fly, there’s laundry to be folded and put away and always, always, always school work to do. I pretty much feel like I’m drowning constantly. All of this to say I hope you’ll stick around because I will hopefully be back to writing on a regular basis soon.

And…I always manage to find some happy each week!

I had an awesome night last Friday with my friend Sarah. She was my student almost 16 years ago during my first year of teaching. We’ve stayed in touch throughout the years and become wonderful friends. I love when we get to hang out and talk!

I was able to have breakfast with my dear friend, Molly, on Sunday. We both got a little teary when we finally saw each other because it’s been almost 10 years since we’ve seen each other. It felt like home, honestly. I was so happy to be with her for a few hours. Hope we get to do it again soon!

I made it to the gym almost every day this week even if it was just a quick workout. Woohoo! That makes me feel better.

One of my students brought me a pumpkin spice latte this week! She was coming in late because of an orthodontist appointment and said she was bringing Starbucks for her and her friend. I jokingly said “you better bring me one!” and she did!!

I finished (can you believe it?) a really good James Patterson book, Invisible. I thought I had it all figured out and then he surprised me!!! It was a great book.

Matt and I hadn’t been getting along at all the last few weeks. We had a big blowout on Sunday and put everything out on the table. We are sooooo much better now and that makes me VERY happy!!

New TV came back on this week!! PARENTHOOD! GREY’S! GOLDBERGS! THE MIDDLE! MODERN FAMILY! LAW AND ORDER SVU! I’m so excited!!!

We don’t have a crazy (for us anyway) schedule this weekend and we might actually get to chill a little bit. September is always nuts and it’s always nice when things start to slow down a bit.

I love my job! That makes me happy every day!

My children are amazing. Truly. I just relish in their awesomeness each and every day.

Even though he sometimes drives me crazy, and we go through our rough patches, I have the best husband of all time. Lucky in love over here. (Easier to remember some days better than others… ;) )

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

Three therapy dates this week: one with my actual therapist, a wine date with my BFF and a date with my hairdresser who definitely counts as a therapist!

Gabe’s soccer practices are right by my Mom’s new house so, when it’s my night to carpool, the kids and I usually hang out over there while we wait for Gabe. I love having regular “dates” with my Mom.

The weather here in Ohio has been gorgeous. It’s been cool, sunny and delightful! I’m so glad I’m not sweating my butt off in my classroom any more!

Good friends are lifeblood, aren’t they? I’m so thankful I have such good friends.

A new haircut and new color always makes me feel better. I got dark red/violet highlights! Love them.

We only have one soccer game this weekend! While I love watching my boys play, it’s also nice to have a break!

I get to hang out with my friend Sarah tonight!

Lastly, one of my best friends from college is in town and I get to see her on Sunday! It’s been almost 10 years since I’ve seen her!!! I can’t wait!!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

Isn’t it funny how sometimes you write a blog post that you don’t think is anything special and then everyone goes crazy over it? My blog post from Tuesday got over 1200 views in two days! I’m so glad because it’s an important topic and I only can hope that everyone watched the video too! Thank you to everyone who shared it!

Matthew’s birthday is tomorrow and he has been counting down the days with excitement. It’s so fun to watch them grow up, isn’t it?

Remember how Gabe loves to bake? He made Matthew’s cupcakes to take to school for his birthday! They look like they have grass on top and then a soccer ball. He does such a great job!

I’ve had a rough week emotionally. It’s so wonderful to have friends at work and at home that will listen and try to help you through it. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone.

Olivia’s clothes make me so happy. I love dressing my little model!

It’s so wonderful to have a job that you are passionate about. I can’t imagine doing anything else but teaching. My students are so amazing and wonderful. They make my day!

I’m obsessed with Dexter. I just finished season 2. Holy moly.

It was chilly on Thursday and I had goosebumps…it was amazing! My school doesn’t have air conditioning and it’s been SOOOOOO hot that being cold feels so good.

Matthew’s birthday celebration is this weekend. I go all out for my kids’ birthdays…I just love doing it and I want them to know that the day they were born was VERY special!

What made you happy this week?

Free

***Linking up with MamaKat today: 2.) Write a blog post inspired by the word: goals.***

A repost from February because I’m not doing very well with this goal and thought I (and maybe everyone) could use the reminder…

What I like most about change is that it’s a synonym for ‘hope.’ If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is, ‘I believe in tomorrow and I will be part of it.’
— Linda Ellerbee

I know it’s almost February and I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been pondering. I wanted to get in on the “word for the year” game but I really wanted to get it right. For me.

So I decided my word for 2014 was…free.

I had a revelation the other day. It was in therapy which is often the best place to have a soul-searching revelation, no? (P.S. for those of you who aren’t in therapy, these revelations almost never happen while you’re with your therapist. They happen at 2 a.m. and then you forget by the time you have your next session. Am I right?) I was really getting frustrated with myself because I just can’t get past this obsession with being very thin. It’s ridiculous because a.) I haven’t been very thin in a very long time so I’m not sure why I’m still hanging on to it b.) it’s not going to happen c.) it’s getting in the way of my enjoyment of life. Point c was good enough reason for me to demand that I figure out why on earth I have this obsession.

Then it hit me.

I want to be very thin because I associate being thin with being free. Free from counting calories, from working out, from standing in front of the mirror pinching fat and lifting up your butt and wondering how much better you’d look if your waist was just *this* much smaller.

Then it hit me again.

I was very thin for a very long time and I was anything but free. I was obsessed and miserable. So that couldn’t be it. My therapist asked me when was the last time I felt truly free of this obsession. I said probably Kindergarten. I am almost 38 years old and the last time I felt free from my obsessions about my body and my looks was when I was five. Does that depress the hell out of anyone else? It did me. But it was a real eye opener.

I don’t want to be very thin, I want to be free. I want to workout because I love to, eat healthy because it makes me feel good and be done with it. I want to enjoy pizza and ice cream with my kids once in a while. Be free.

I want to be free from my obsessions. If that means taking medicine that helps me, then I’m going to be free from the stigma that comes from taking “happy pills”. I need them, damn it, so there.

I want to be free from caring what others think of me, from the unrealistic expectations I put on myself and others, from the need to be perfect 100% of the time.

It’s a great comfort to be yourself, and a goal worth striving for, even though it may temporarily make life more difficult.

— Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal

You want to know something else that has been really healing for me and helped me on my path to being free? A song from Frozen. Let It Go. As silly as it sounds, that amazing song from a Disney movie really got to me.

A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen.
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.
Couldn’t keep it in, Heaven knows I tried.
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know.

Let it go, let it go!
Can’t hold it back anymore.
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door.
I don’t care what they’re going to say.

It’s funny how some distance,
makes everything seem small.
And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do,
to test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me.
I am free!

I’m never going back; the past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go.
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn.
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand, in the light of day.

Isn’t that perfect? No more perfect. No more queen of isolation. No more having to be the good girl. The past is in the past. I’m free!!!

I don’t want to be 40 years old and still obsessing over the size of my ass. I don’t want to be 50 years old spending an hour looking in the mirror trying to judge just how far my eyelids have started to droop. I don’t want to be 60 years old still feeling shackled to this perfect girl I felt I needed to be. I want to be free.

Will I still workout and try to keep my body healthy and in shape? Of course. Will I still eat healthy? You betcha. Will I still care about my appearance? Yes, Ma’am. The difference is I won’t obsess. I won’t let any of those things make me feel imprisoned. I won’t let it keep me from enjoying my wondrous life.

I want to be here. In the moment. Living and enjoying every single second of this amazing life.

Free.

One of the essential tasks for living a wise life is letting go. Letting go is the path to freedom. It is only by letting go of the hopes, the fears, the pain, the past, the stories that have a hold on us that we can quiet our mind and open our heart.

— Jack Kornfield